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March 22, 2007, 4:59 AM CT

Phone-based therapy for depression

Phone-based therapy for depression
When people receive brief telephone-based psychotherapy soon after starting on antidepressant medication, strong positive effects may continue 18 months after their first session. So concludes a Group Health study in the April Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

This paper describes one more year of follow-up since a 2004 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) report on the same random sample of Group Health patients.

With close to 400 patients, this is the largest study yet of psychotherapy delivered over the telephone, said Evette J. Ludman, PhD, senior research associate, Group Health Center for Health Studies, the papers lead author. Its also the first to study the effectiveness of combining phone-based treatment with antidepressant drug therapy as provided in everyday medical practice.

Long-term positive effects of initially adding phone-based treatment included improvements in patients symptoms of depression and satisfaction with their care, said Ludman. At 18 months, 77 percent of those who got phone-based treatment (but only 63 percent of those receiving regular care) reported their depression was much or very much improved. Those who received phone-based treatment were slightly better at taking their antidepressant medicine as recommended, but that did not account for most of their improvement. And effects were stronger for patients with moderate to severe depression than for those with mild depression.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

March 21, 2007, 9:47 PM CT

Morphine kills pain -- not patients

Morphine kills pain -- not patients
A number of people, including health care workers, think that morphine is a lethal drug that causes death when used to control pain for a patient who is dying. That is a misconception as per new research reported in the latest issue of Palliative Medicine, from SAGE Publications.

Two articles in the peer-evaluated journal address research led by Professor Bassam Estfan of The Taussig Cancer Center in which patients in a specialist palliative care in-patient unit with severe cancer pain were treated with morphine, a type of opioid. Their vital statistics were monitored before and after the pain was controlled and there were no significant changes. Morphine did not cause respiratory depression, the mechanism by which lethal opioid overdose typically kills.

Unlike a number of other drugs, morphine has a very wide safety margin, wrote Dr Rob George, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, from the University College London, in his commentary about the research. Evidence over the last 20 years has repeatedly shown that, used correctly, morphine is well tolerated, does not cloud the mind, does not shorten life, and its sedating effects wear off quickly. This is obviously good for patients in pain.

There is no evidence to suggest that morphine is a killer, Dr George continued. It could be perceived that not to give it is an act of brutality. We urge those in the medical community to understand the facts about morphine and other opioids its time to set the record straight. Doctors should feel free to manage pain with doses adjusted to individual patients so that the patients can be comfortable and be able to live with dignity until they die.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

March 21, 2007, 5:13 AM CT

Genetic Risk for Schizophrenia

Genetic Risk for Schizophrenia
Psychiatric scientists at The Zucker Hillside Hospital campus of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have uncovered evidence of a new gene that appears to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, a disorder characterized by distorted thinking, hallucinations and a reduced ability to feel normal emotions.

Working in conjunction with scientists at the Harvard Medical School Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics in Boston, MA, the Zucker Hillside team utilized a cutting-edge technology called whole genome association (WGA) to search the entire human genome in 178 patients with schizophrenia and 144 healthy individuals. WGA technology was used to examine over 500,000 genetic markers in each individual, the largest number of such markers examined to date, and the first published study to utilize WGA technology in a psychiatric illness. Prior studies have been much more limited in scope, often incorporating less than 10 markers.

The study results are scheduled would be published online Tuesday in Molecular Psychiatry, which can be accessed at

Of the 500,000 genetic markers, the scientists observed that the most significant link with schizophrenia came from a marker located in a chromosomal region called the pseudoautosomal region 1 (PAR1), which is on both the X and Y chromosomes. The marker was located adjacent to two genes, CSF2RA and IL3RA, which previously were thought to play a role in inflammation and autoimmune disorders. Those two genes produce receptors for two cytokines, GM-CSF and interleukin-3. Cytokines are involved in the body's response to infection, and may play a role in the brain's response to injury.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

March 20, 2007, 9:59 PM CT

Do feelings matter?

Do feelings matter?
Providence, RI As per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adolescents and young adults currently account for fifty percent of new HIV infections on an annual basis. As a result, ongoing research and information on HIV prevention has become a high priority for this age group. Now a new study reveals that helping adolescents manage their emotions may be just as important as providing them with information on the practical side of safe sex in order to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Scientists from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University studied 222 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 with psychiatric disorders and observed that feelings do matter when it comes to making decisions about safe sex. Specifically, the findings suggest that lack of self-efficacy (the belief that one could effectively engage in a particular behavior) when confronted with the stress of using condoms is a powerful barrier to their use.

"We observed that adolescents need help feeling more comfortable and less distressed about discussing and using condoms," says lead author Celia Lescano, PhD, with the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

March 20, 2007, 9:23 PM CT

Root Beer May Be "Safest" Soft Drink for Teeth

Root Beer May Be
Exposing teeth to soft drinks, even for a short period of time, causes dental erosion-and prolonged exposure can lead to significant enamel loss. Root beer products, however, are non-carbonated and do not contain the acids that harm teeth, as per a research studyin the March/April 2007 issue of General Dentistry, the AGD's clinical, peer-evaluated journal. That might be something to consider during the next visit to the grocery store.

Consumers often consider soft drinks to be harmless, believing that the only concern is sugar content. Most choose to consume "diet" drinks to alleviate this concern. However, diet drinks contain phosphoric acid and/or citric acid and still cause dental erosion-though considerably less than their sugared counterparts.

"Drinking any type of soft drink poses risk to the health of your teeth," says AGD spokesperson Kenton Ross, DMD, FAGD. Dr. Ross recommends that patients consume fewer soft drinks by limiting their intake to meals. He also advises patients to drink with a straw, which will reduce soda's contact with teeth.

"My patients are shocked to hear that a number of of the soft drinks they consume battery acid," Dr. Ross explains. For example, one type of cola ranked 2.39 on the acid.

scale, in comparison to battery acid which is 1.0.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

March 20, 2007, 9:11 PM CT

Cancer Patients' Opinions About Doctors

Cancer Patients' Opinions About Doctors
Accessing high-quality health information on the Internet may improve patients with breast cancer' opinions about their doctors, as per a new study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research, funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Previous research shows that a number of patients with breast cancer go to the Internet to learn about their disease. This is the first study to examine how patients' opinions about their health-care providers affects how they seek online health education and support and, in turn, how using these services influences how they feel about their doctors.

The study sample included 231 recently diagnosed patients with breast cancer who were referred by their health-care providers to a study in which they were provided a free computer, Internet access and training on how to use an online health education and support system called the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (CHESS) "Living with Breast Cancer" program, a computer-based health education and support system. The patients were recruited from Wisconsin and Michigan. Surveys were administered before group access and then four months later. Data about how women used the system were also collected.

Generally, a worse doctor-patient relationship was linked to higher use of the information-related services, while more frequent use of the information services was linked to patients being more satisfied with their doctors.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

March 19, 2007, 5:15 AM CT

Virtual racing games linked to risk taking

Virtual racing games linked to risk taking
Psychology experts have taken the "media priming" effects of popular video console and PC-based games on the road, finding that virtual racing seems to lead to aggressive driving and a propensity for risk taking. Extending previous findings on how aggressive virtual-shooter games increase aggression-related thoughts, feelings and behaviors, scientists at Munich's Ludwig-Maximilians University and the Allianz Center for Technology observed that of 198 men and women, those who play more virtual car-racing games were more likely to report that they drive aggressively and get in accidents. Less frequent virtual racing was linked to more cautious driving.

The findings are reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, which is published by the American Psychological Association.

Linking media priming effects the way virtual aggression can lead to the real thing -- to behavior, a second study observed that men who played even one virtual racing game subsequently took significantly higher risks in critical traffic situations on a computer simulator than did men who played a neutral game. Sixty-eight men were in this study.

Finally, the scientists assigned 83 men to play either typical racing or neutral games on a Sony Playstation. In the racing games, say the authors, "To win, participants had to massively violate traffic rules (e.g., drive on the sidewalk, crash into other cards, drive at high speed)." Those who raced subsequently reported a significantly higher accessibility of thoughts and feelings associated with risk-taking than did those who played a neutral game.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

March 19, 2007, 5:12 AM CT

Americans still not eating enough fruits and vegetables

Americans still not eating enough fruits and vegetables
"Eat your vegetables" has been heard at the dinner tables of America for a long time. Has the message gotten through? Since 1990 the Dietary Guidelines for Americans has recommended consuming at least two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables daily. However, two studies reported in the recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine clearly show that Americans are not meeting the mark. This is a serious public health concern because consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables is linked to decreased risk of obesity and certain chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Scientists from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research in Baltimore analyzed NHANES data (National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys) to determine trends over time for fruit and vegetable consumption among American adults. The answers are not encouraging. Despite campaigns and slogans, Americans have not increased their consumption, with 28% and 32% meeting USDA guidelines for fruits and vegetables, respectively, and less than 11% meeting the current USDA guidelines for both fruits and vegetables.

The study included 14,997 adults (18 years) from 1988 to 1994 and 8,910 adults from 1999 to 2002 with complete demographic and dietary data. Approximately 62% did not consume any whole fruit servings and 25% of participants reported eating no daily vegetable servings. There was no improvement in Americans fruit consumption during this period and there was a small decrease in vegetable intake.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

March 15, 2007, 9:02 PM CT

Masculinity Can Aid Recovery from Serious Injuries

Masculinity Can Aid Recovery from Serious Injuries
For years, experts have said that the strong, silent male is not one to ask for help when he's hurt, and therefore at a disadvantage when it comes to getting better. But new research says this might not be completely accurate. This masculine identity often linked to men in the armed forces and other high-risk occupations may actually encourage and quicken a man's recovery from serious injuries, says a new exploratory study from the University of Missouri-Columbia. The study is the first to quantitatively confirm correlations between masculinity and men's recovery.

The study assessed men's conformity to masculine roles and included a longitudinal component in which their level of improvement in functioning was assessed. It observed that men with higher masculinity conformity levels were observed to display greater improvement from initial hospitalization to one year after leaving the hospital.

Though more studies are needed, Glenn Good, associate professor of educational, school and counseling psychology in MU College of Education, said the study provides some unexpected findings. Prior studies have generally observed that more traditional views of masculinity are barriers toward health and recovery, in that it encourages dangerous activities and discourages men from seeking help with their problems or accepting vulnerability.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

March 15, 2007, 6:34 PM CT

Residency match results for internal medicine

Residency match results for internal medicine
Results of the 2007 National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) show that the number of medical students choosing internal medicine residencies stayed about the same in comparison to 2006. The 2,680 American medical students entering categorical internal medicine training programs was similar to the 2,668 figure from last year. The American College of Physicians (ACP) says these numbers further underscore the need to redesign internal medicine training and fundamentally change the way that primary care is organized, delivered, financed and valued.

ACP has cautioned that unless there is an increase in the number of medical students choosing internal medicine careers, there will not be enough internists to care for an aging population, which will result in lower-quality care, diminished access to care, higher costs, and decreased patient satisfaction. ACP-proposed reforms call for a patient-centered health care system that builds upon the relationship between patients and their primary and principal care physicians. This model of health care delivery has been proven to result in better quality, more efficient use of resources, reduced utilization, and higher patient satisfaction. ACP also calls for a redesign of training in internal medicine to ensure that tomorrow's internists meet the challenges of both an expanding body of medical knowledge and a rapidly evolving system of health care delivery.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center. Archives of society medical news blog

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